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Television Music The Courts

Aereo Ruling Could Impact Pandora 107

itwbennett writes "Aereo's court battles are far from over, to be sure, but the ruling earlier this month that the TV streaming service doesn't violate copyright laws must have the folks at music streaming service Pandora shaking their heads, wondering why they're still paying royalties that currently consume more than half their revenues. The implications of Aereo's business model are far-reaching and may ultimately 'be resolved by Congress, just as it did when cable first came on the scene, by passing legislation to redefine a public performance,' writes broadcast industry attorney David Oxenford."
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Aereo Ruling Could Impact Pandora

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  • It should never be considered a "public performance".. Not until a video of me fixing a toilet actually fixes a toilet.

  • by duckgod ( 2664193 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @09:28PM (#43542763)
    If Pandora buys a cd(digital music would probably have to wait for another legal victory) and only streams it out to 1 user at a time then I could see this ruling helping Pandora. I doubt this is close to the black magic media distribution that Pandora employs currently. Math is hard but I am thinking it would take a while for this system to be more profitable then the current licensing model.
    • by sheddd ( 592499 )
      mmm no... If this ruling stands, all Pandora needs to do is copy Aereo... rent antennas to pandora users for $x/year, and allow them to play live radio or previously recorded live radio, and save their massive licensing expenses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jheaden ( 169061 )

        Except that Pandora doesn't exactly stream live radio. They generate content streams customized to the listener (or in the case of the genre "stations" specific to that genre). So yeah the closest Pandora could get would be a few million cds and some sort of switching mechanism for the stream.

        They pay for access to the content, plus a per play fee. Really don't see how the ruling could be in any way applied to Pandora

        • by The Mighty Buzzard ( 878441 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @10:56PM (#43543137)
          Or a $20 50mW FM transmitter, a stripped bit of wire to use as an antenna, and a faraday cage for each user's personal "station". That would put them pretty much exactly where aero is. There are no licensing requirements for FM stations that broadcast under 200 feet in the US and the faraday cage could drop the broadcast range to milimeters. They could even have the transmit/receive antennas on the same circuit board.
          • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @12:32AM (#43543449) Journal

            Or a $20 50mW FM transmitter, a stripped bit of wire to use as an antenna, and a faraday cage for each user's personal "station". That would put them pretty much exactly where aero is.

            Not even close. Aereo is merely relaying an existing signal. Pandora is originating the signal.

            • Pandora pays exorbitant license rates above and beyond that paid by actual FM radio broadcasters.

              It may be worth it to implement a system where they transmit a custom "Radio station" and then receive it via an antenna like Aereo just to pay the radio license fees and not the streaming license fees.


              • FM radio broadcasters pay zero in license rates. They're in fact paid by a middleman organization that I forget the name of that works for the labels to play the labels' music.
              • RE: Pandora pays exorbitant license rates above and beyond that paid by actual FM radio broadcasters.

                That's because the RIAA wants to kill competition.

                If the RIAA owned Pandora, these fees would magically disappear.

            • As are most every other terrestrial radio station. Non-issue.
        • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:01AM (#43545201) Homepage

          It wasn't CDs, but rather DVDs, but that is essentially what Zediva tried with individual DVDs and players [wikipedia.org]. It ultimately didn't work out for them in the end, although I don't believe that there was final verdict that said what they were attempting to do was illegal. If another company wanted to try the legal challenge, they better have VERY deep pockets.

        • by sheddd ( 592499 )
          So here's a business plan for pandora:

          - I sign up for $x/year, pay up-front
          - They record many radio channels for me, and index them by song
          - After a month of recording the many channels, the amount of music they have available for me is good enough and they can just plug my library into their old algorithms and everything works fine and it's a private performance so no royalties are due.
          - Profit!!
      • by jon3k ( 691256 )
        Sure, as long as Pandora rebroadcasts live radio, commercials and all, and has one FM tuner for each customer.
        • I think as law currently stands they could record the broadcasts and give the users a nifty tool that skips over the commercials, and generally behaves as pandora does today. Maybe they need to make sure the song they think you want to listen to has actually been broadcasted since you subscribed to them.
      • What would be the point? I can already stream live radio from a vast number of stations from all over legally and with no cost. Heck, a fair number of stations even allow you to stream recorded broadcasts for nothing.

    • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @10:19PM (#43542985) Homepage

      No, that would still be public performance. It's defined in the Copyright Act, and includes performances to only one person at a time:

      To perform or display a work âoepubliclyâ meansâ"
      (1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or
      (2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

      Instead there'd have to buy one CD per user who wanted to listen.

      They could save momey by renting them to users. Except that you can't rent music CDs as a rule due to an exception to first sale ( 17 USC 109 (b)(1)(a) ), they might need to create a complicated system of selling and repurchasing discs on demand which would probably not convince a court that it was something other than rental.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do the same royalties apply to music videos? If not, why doesn't Pandora stream low quality video/high quality audio for the songs it can to cut down on costs.

  • aereo may need to add forced Regional locks if they don't want to get sued the by the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, ESPN / ABC and others.

    • Is this Aero service not limited to the local market where the broadcast station might be received? If so, are these local market not blacked out by the sports organizations? Can they broadcast their "antenna" signal from a local area to the entire Internet? Since broadcast TV depends on advertising, should the broadcasters not be happy to get more eyeballs to advertise to?

  • Uh, why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jon3k ( 691256 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @11:28PM (#43543243)
    What Pandora does is completely different. Aereo is rebroadcasting a live signal. Pandora is replaying a recorded song any number of times to any number of people. Aereo has an antenna for each subscriber. How in the world is this even remotely comparable?
    • Right - Pandora is in control of the content; Aereo is just transmitting a signal somebody else controls over the Internet. If Pandora were re-transmitting an FM station from some market instead of choosing the songs .... wait, how did this ever go from a lame draft on somebody's blog to a Slashdot story?

    • I would also add that it is a public, free broadcast. Pandora is picking and chosing the content they broadcast.

    • What Aereo is doing is not even rebroadcasting, which would apparently be the word that the broadcast industry is trying to redefine. It's basically the same as having an antenna, DVR and Slingbox at your home, except it's not at your home and there are a lot of them under one roof.

    • Yeah I was stumped from the summary too. Pandora isn't anything like Aereo. I'm listening to Pandora right now. I can't play what I want. I can skip some songs, but thats it. If I recorded the song, uploaded it to Pandora, and asked Pandora to play it to me later.. that might be different.
  • A library I used to frequent kept DVDs on the shelves for 3-day checkout. The selection was mostly landmark films, classics, and historic pieces. I wonder what the law would be if they instead loaned out via streaming (DVDs or Blu-Rays). Instead of a 2-3 day checkout window, they were digitally transported for up to 4 hours (automatically "checked in" when you exit the streaming system or finish the work).

    About 10 years back, there was a big uproar that libraries wanted to do similar with regular print bo
    • Actually, some libraries are renting electronic versions of books. My wife will take out Kindle books via our local library and the New York Public Library. (You just need to be a New York resident, no need to live in New York City to sign up.) It goes through Amazon.com and it has DRM, of course, but it's still electronic rentals. She also takes out audio books that she can play on an iPod or other device.

  • You can bet that the MAFIAA is hard at work writing legislation for their wholly owned subsidiary, the US Congress, to rubberstamp for them to redefine "public performance" to be pretty much anything they can charge royalties for.
    • You can bet that the MAFIAA is hard at work writing legislation for their wholly owned subsidiary, the US Congress...

      This is a ridiculous notion, to say that the US Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the RIAA and MPAA. ...they begrudgingly share ownership with Monsanto, BP, Goldman Sachs, AT&T, Comcast, and General Motors.

  • Aero redirects others' signals and is just a fancy antenna. Pandora is 1000 little Internet radio stations, and should pay royalties like any other.

    There is no comparison. In the former, the stations pay the royalties. In the latter, the station, Pandora, does, too.

    Tune In Radio isn't even like either -- it is just a finder and facilitator of broadcast radio stations' newfangled Intertubes feeds.

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